Just over half of graduates say that the amount of money they spent for a college degree was worth it in the end.

Slim majority say college was worth the price, poll finds

By: James Abbey, January 27, 2016

A student loan estimate helps college attendants understand how much tuition will cost them. While the price of tuition is expensive, most graduates say the investment was worth it, a recent survey reveals.

Over half of students – 52 percent – who graduated with a degree from a public university say the experience they had justified the expense, based on a newly released poll conducted jointly by Gallup and Purdue University.

There was some variability in this belief depending on the type of institution students graduated from. For example, among alumni from nonprofit universities, approximately 47 percent responded in the same fashion. Meanwhile, only 1 in 4 – 26 percent – who attended private for-profit universities indicated as much.

Recent grads less inclined to say education justified tuition
What also played a role in students’ assessment, 30,000 of whom were polled, was how long ago they received their diploma. Graduates whose commencement ceremonies were in the last decade were less likely to think their education was worth the cost, Gallup revealed.

The report noted that the difference in opinion may boil down to recent co-eds not being as far along in their careers as others, thus not earning the same amount of money.

“To some extent, older alumni might be more likely to say their education was worth it because they are further along in their careers and making more money,” researchers from Gallup and Purdue pointed out. “Also, many recent graduates are possibly more likely than older alumni to be currently making student loan payments; the more undergraduate debt alumni have to take on to obtain their degree, the less likely they are to say their education was worth it.”

Relationships affect sentiment

Students’ perceptions were affected by their relationships with professors.”

What also influenced graduates’ opinions on the matter were relationships they formed with fellow classmates. The report found, for instance, that students were nearly two times more likely to think the cost was worth it if their professors seemed to genuinely care about their welfare. Similarly, respondents who could cite an instructor who made them enthusiastic about learning were 1.8 times more inclined to believe the fruits of a college education justified the price.

Researchers for the Gallup-Purdue Index report recommended that colleges and universities should do everything possible to support faculty and student camaraderie. High-quality mentor-student relationships have an impact on graduates’ perception of their overall university experience.

Tuition costs over the years have far surpassed the rate of inflation as well as the cost of living. For an in-state student to attend a four-year public university, the average cost for tuition and fees in the 2015-16 academic year was $9,410, approximately 3 percent more than the previous year, according to the College Board. That translates to $265 more. Meanwhile, for a student who lives out of state to attend the same school, tuition and fees averaged approximately $23,800, a 3.4 percent increase, or $8,000 more. Free student loan quotes  provide families with an idea of how much they should save.